Courtesy of Mile High Spirits
As interest in locally made spirits grows, a handful of small craft distilleries are now serving their own cocktails.
In February, Mile High Spirits opened in Denver with an airy tasting room and bar attached to its distillery, which produces proprietary liquors and private label spirits for customers. “What we realized was that we don’t have a sense of community in Denver,” says Wyn Ferrell, who launched the venture with partners Joe Vonfeldt and Chase Campbell. “There was a need for something unique and cool—a local watering hole. That’s exactly what we built.”
The bar serves only liquors made on premises: Fireside whiskey, which ages over four years in white American oak; six-times-distilled Elevate vodka; Denver dry gin; and white, island-style Pegleg rum. Mile High is one of only three distilleries in the world to use an all-glass still (as opposed to copper) for its gin and vodka production. “The glass is best for vodka and gin because it doesn’t pick up any impurities or flavors as a result of being boiled in and exposed to metals,” Ferrell explains.
Patrons can consult a rotating lineup of infused vodkas to customize Moscow Mules—traditionally vodka, ginger beer and lime. The current selection includes orange-vanilla, citrus, pineapple, peach-habanero and pickle-pepperoncini, an ingredient in the house Bloody Mary. A benefit for the company and customers: Those who like spirits enough to take them home can buy bottles for retail on-site.
The Shanty, Brooklyn: A large window separates this industrial Williamsburg bar from the New York Distilling Company. Cocktails include the sweet and potent Opera, made with Dubbonnet Rouge, maraschino liqueur, orange bitters and house-made Perry’s Tot navy strength gin—a historically high-proof style of gin that, were it to be spilled on gunpowder, would not hinder combustion.
Sun Liquor Distillery, Seattle: Top Pot Doughnuts co-owner Michael Klebeck opened this gin and vodka distillery as an offshoot of his first bar, Sun Liquor. The copper stills can be seen through a glass partition in the bar, where the house gin and vodka star in cocktails like the Southside, with flagship Hedge Trimmer gin, mint, lemon juice and ginger beer.
Bardenay Restaurant and Distillery, Boise, ID: Bardenay (sailor slang for "cocktail") has been operating as a restaurant and distillery since April 2000. Along with other locally produced spirits, the restaurant serves cocktails made with its own London dry gin and Old World–style vodka. Both spirits can be enjoyed together in the Bardenay Bond: a martini made with gin, vodka and Lillet Blanc.